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Old 11-26-2007, 02:37 PM
 
176 posts, read 598,267 times
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So I'm hammering out the details of a trip down to TX the first half of January with a friend of mine, and we were thinking the weather should be nice enough at least part of the time we're down there for camping, and we both would like to save some money doing that vs. a hotel. I'd also like to check it out, as it's one of my favorite activities and the quality of the outdoor experience would make a big difference to me as to whether it's a good idea to move down or not. So, a couple questions...

1. Are the campgrounds (for tent camping) pretty decent on the whole?

2. I'm not really used to dangerous/annoying critters like copperheads, vipers, ticks, chiggers, and everything else...how big of a problem should I expect if I stay on the beaten path? How do the dangers differ between the piney woods and the gulf coast?

3. Here in OR, there are a lot of nice state/fed/county parks with campgrounds, and the private (sometimes the county and state too) campgrounds are generally horrible. I know OR has more state/fed land than normal, so I don't know how similar our situation is with TX. I remember the camping in CA generally being horrible (crowded as hell and bad campgrounds generally), the WA camping being great, but I haven't camped in other states.

4. Are campgrounds typically accessible this time of year by car, or do some need a 4X4.

5. Most people don't camp in the winter, from my experience. Some of the campgrounds here close or partially close during the winter. Are we going to encounter campgrounds that are closed up for the winter?

6. How much does a night typically cost for a tent site?
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Old 11-26-2007, 03:13 PM
 
Location: Dallas TX & AL Gulf Coast
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Here's a site for campgrounds in the state. Just note that January can be the coldest month here in Texas, and while normally it is still on the warm side in the southern part, that, too, can change in an instant.

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department | Welcome
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Old 11-26-2007, 03:32 PM
 
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I've heard someone comment on this on the OR board, but some Oregonians tend to like being exposed to the colder weather for some reason (maybe the northern European heritage?). Like this morning it was about 32 degrees and I didn't bother wearing a coat...and I remember when I was growing up my brother would run out to play in the snow in his underwear...

Fishing on a mountain lake at dawn in early spring in OR...now that was too much for me with just a sweatshirt.

I was under the impression that the weather in that area is generally 50+ during the day, but cold fronts can bring it down to a bit below 30 for a couple days. I'd be more worried about rain than temps in the 20s...or does it get colder than that?

I was planning on bringing my laptop to get weather updates. Are there cafes or coffee shops (seems like there are starbucks everywhere) where you can get an internet connection? Or is the only place going to be at hotels?

I guess I'm more worried about critters than anything else. I haven't experienced that aspect of the outdoors much before and I'm starting to get a little worried. I didn't realize TX had such a reputation for having all sorts of nasty bugs. That's the first aspect of moving to TX I've encountered that I'm not sure I could deal with, if there are all sorts of nasty bugs even on the beaten path...
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Old 11-26-2007, 03:42 PM
 
Location: Austin, TX
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TPWD, in my experience, does a really good job of establishing a nice central area in most parks; however, the condition may vary quite a bit as you travel further into the park. It all depends on your definition of 'horrible'...for my wife, horrible is the outhouse style bathrooms at some parks. For others, it is the overcrowded parks full of college binge drinkers. Still others will not like the copious mosquitos in E. Texas or near the coast.

The TPWD will have lots of good info. If you are mainly looking to save money, it sounds like you are probably looking for 'car camping'. You leave most of the stuff in the car, set up a tent, and camp 10 to 100 feet from your car. Usually water is available fairly close, as well as bathrooms and a picnic table is usually at your campsite.

Oh, and don't worry too much about the bugs, at least in the winter. The 6 and 8 legged (as well as the no-legged) varieties are much scarcer in the winter. The four legged may be around, though...possum, skunk, armadillo, etc., but nothing to really worry about. Some of the parks have 'gators, but they are not in the camping area.
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Old 11-26-2007, 04:02 PM
 
Location: Dallas TX & AL Gulf Coast
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Hmmm... ahh... well, I'm not the one to give you specific details about camping, as my idea of roughing it is staying at the nearest hotel!

As far as the weather, I'm in the Dallas area and in January it can be nice and then it can be in the single-digits w/snow, ice, rain, wind and/or a combination of all of these in a few days' span. For instance, Wednesday of last week here, it was 84. Then on Thursday, it was cold and snowing/raining. I would keep current track as you said as well as look on weather.com for the average/high/lows of the areas you intend to go to beforehand, just keeping in mind it's the best guess.

And, yes, most of the Starbucks in the area have wireless as do many other facilities. Here's a good website to check for wireless sites all across the U.S.:

Free Wireless Internet (WiFi) Access Points in the United States

Hope you have a wonderful trip and welcome to Texas!
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Old 11-26-2007, 04:02 PM
 
Location: Clear Lake, Houston TX
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I've seen 6-8 ft gators on a campground around the Conroe - Huntsville area. Also saw raccoons and one copperhead. Lots of mosquitos. DEET is a must! This was summertime awhile back. The animals can wander into your campsite from time to time. But as with almost any wild animal, they generally avoid people at all costs. That is, unless you're messing with their nests!
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Old 11-26-2007, 04:22 PM
 
176 posts, read 598,267 times
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Phew..this is all sounding a little better. Wild animals I can deal with. We have bears, raccoons, skunks, etc. up here and I'm used to that. The only time I ever had a real problem other than them eating all our food was when I was a little kid out camping with my older brother (who was maybe 9 or so at the time) and our campsite got surrounded by a dozen or so raccoons (who seemed awfully big and angry to me as a kid, heh).

But I don't have any experience with ticks/chiggers/scorpions and they seem real nasty to deal with from what I've read...the only time I've heard about ticks here is from people who like hunting, and hadn't even heard of chiggers before.

Yes, "car camping" is what I'm looking for I guess. I'm not as into the "roughing it" survival sort of camping generally. Just like to be out in the outdoors, fish, swim, hike, campfires, that sort of thing...especially when I don't know the area.
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Old 11-27-2007, 08:16 PM
 
Location: North of DFW
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The State Parks are the best in Texas. We live close to Tyler State Park. That time of the year can be a little chilly or real nice. We were out at Tyler State Park just about a month ago....and you couldn't stir the tent campers with a stick. They also have screen houses. It's really too cold to have a lot of little critters running around. Snakes are not going to out and about....and spiders, mesquito's, chiggers, ticks ....all too cold.
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Old 11-27-2007, 09:23 PM
 
176 posts, read 598,267 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by destin04 View Post
The State Parks are the best in Texas. We live close to Tyler State Park. That time of the year can be a little chilly or real nice. We were out at Tyler State Park just about a month ago....and you couldn't stir the tent campers with a stick. They also have screen houses. It's really too cold to have a lot of little critters running around. Snakes are not going to out and about....and spiders, mesquito's, chiggers, ticks ....all too cold.
But how is it in the spring/summer/fall?
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Old 11-28-2007, 01:52 AM
 
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The last time I camped out it was on the beach down in Galveston.

We were up the entire night fighting against the heavy sea winds which kept knocking our poor little tent to the ground

So, next time I will camp just a tad bit inland

Just wanted to point out a possible hurdle in case you were thinking about camping out on any actual beaches.
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